Alice was one of Richard Neville’s sisters – so she was Anne Neville’s aunt. Her father married her to one of the sons of his northern affinity – Henry FitzHugh of Ravensworth. FitzHugh would become the 5th baron. In time Alice gave her husband a clutch of sons and at least five daughters. FitzHugh was able to. marry them off to improve his own standing and the Neville family, headed by the Earl of Warwick, benefitted as well. Anne FitzHugh found herself married to Francis Lovell who would become Richard of Gloucester’s friend and Lord Chamberlain. It could have been that King Edward thought that Warwick would marry the boy to one of his own daughters but the earl had his sights set on greater things.
Inevitably the family found them selves bound up with Robin of Redesdale’s revolt in 1469 but the family together with Francis Lovell were pardoned their part in Warwick’s rebellion. Alice’s husband died in 1472 and does not seem to have been present in his brother-in-law’s army at Barnet. Nor does he seem to have taken part in the Battle of Tewkesbury. Fortunately he and Alice had founded a chantry at Ravensworth so that masses could be said for their souls to speed them through purgatory.
Life changed for Alice and her children. There would be no more grand marriages now that Warwick was gone. Alice remained a widow but she seems to have been on good terms with her brother’s replacement, Richard Duke of Gloucester. The family changed its affinity from Neville to Plantagenet and Alice is likely to have been welcome at Middleham, especially when her niece, Anne, gave birth to her son Edward of Middleham. She was the only one of Anne’s aunts to attend her coronation in 1483. With her was her daughter Elizabeth married to Sir William Parr. All the ladies who attended Anne received new gowns of blue velvet.
Alice would mourn the death of Anne and perhaps, more quietly, the end of Richard. She and her sisters Katherine, the widow of Lord Hastings executed by Richard, and Margaret were still alive when Henry Tudor claimed the throne. Margaret who had lived a life of poverty because of her husband’s Lancastrian credentials was now welcome at court. Anne Lovell lost her home at Minster Lovell which fell to Jasper Tudor although there is no indication he ever lived there. After Lovell’s disappearance in 1487 she received an annuity from the king but like her mother chose not to marry again. Instead she may have lived with her mother in the FitzHugh dower house at West Tanfield. Alice took an active role in arranging the marriages of her grandchildren and administering her dower estate. Her life was perhaps the most untroubled of the Neville sisters’ experience of marriage and life in general.
Despite providing her husband with six sons the FitzHugh barony was divided between co-heiresses within a generation. Her eldest son, Richard, suggesting that he was named after his maternal grandfather, died while his son George was still a minor and Alice’s grandson was dead by 1513. Her other sons had no legitimate male heirs of their own.
And the advent theme for today? Tricky – I’m going with the gift of blue velvet. The cloth was imported at great expense from Italy. The centres of production were Venice and Genoa. I’m not sure what colour it was but I seem to recall that Henry VIII – ever a modest and economical man- had a toilet seat covered in velvet.
Raglan in Gwent was, apparently, one of the last medieval castles to be constructed in England and Wales. The site was granted by Strongbow de Clare to his man Walter Bloet. The Bloets continued to hold Raglan until the fourteenth century at which point it was transmitted to the Berkeley family when Elizabeth Bloet ‘ The Lady of Raglan’ inherited her father’s estates. Sir James Berkeley died and Elizabeth married for a second time to Sir William ap Thomas – and he’s responsible for the building as it stands today. And that takes us slap bang into the fifteenth century and the Wars of the Roses.
By 1441 ap Thomas was steward for the Lordship of Abergavenny which is, of course, associated with the Neville family. He was also Richard of York’s steward in Wales – Richard was Lord of Usk by descent from Lady Elizabeth de Burgh making him a descendent of William Marshal and Isabel de Clare. William’s service to Richard let to him being called the ‘Blue Knight of Gwent’. Anyway, that aside after Elizabeth Bloet died William ap Thomas became a tenant to his Berkeley step-son. James Berkeley. In 1432 William purchased Raglan from the Berkeley family which comes as a relief because I was a bit concerned I was going to have to untangle the Berkeley family tree and its various feuds. Just a quick reminder Berkeley Castle is on the opposite side of the River Severn.
When William died in 1445 his son also named William adopted the name Herbert – I think it was because it was chosen because of a Norman ancestor but I’m not totally sure – given that he would have been styled William ap William or Gwilym ap Gwilym. In 1461 William Herbert was with Richard of York’s son Edward at Mortimer’s Cross where he commanded the left flank. In July Edward, now King Edward IV, awarded Herbert a barony and he replaced Jasper Tudor as Earl of Pembroke and gained wardship of Henry Tudor. Essentially William was Jasper’s main Welsh rival during the Wars of the Roses which may be a bit of a simplification but it helps make sense of the politics. The plan was for Henry to marry one of Herbert’s daughters – Maud who eventually married into the Percy family. But having served the Yorkists loyally Herbert fell foul of the Earl of Warwick when he rebelled against King Edward IV in 1469. William and his brother Richard were executed in the aftermath the Battle of Edgecote Moor. William’s eldest son, another William, was married to Mary Woodville a sister of Edward IV’s queen Elizabeth Woodville.
During the summer of 1483 Richard Duke of Gloucester found it necessary to remind Londoners that his late brother was a tad on the licentious side – Jane Shore, the king’s mistress, who was in the duke’s bad books in any event for carrying messages between Elizabeth Woodville and Lord Hastings was required to do penance carrying a lighted taper bare foot through the streets of London in just her shift. It wasn’t news that Edward liked the ladies but it was a warm up for the fact was that apparently the late king forgot to mention to Elizabeth Woodville that he was already pre contracted to Lady Eleanor Butler when he married her in 1464 – in another secret marriage.
As well as illegitimising his nephews Richard was also pulling a media stunt that his father Richard of York and father-in-law the Earl of Warwick would have approved. Essentially he was stating that Edward’s court was corrupt to the core and that a new broom was required. Richard, a pious man, was just the chap for the job having the necessary Plantagenet bloodlines, a dutiful wife and an heir as well. For good measure Ralph Shaa reminded everyone who might care to listen that Duchess Cecily was supposed to have had a fling in Rouen with an archer whilst the Duke of York was busy elsewhere resulting in the arrival of Edward nine months later – who was tall and blond unlike his rather short and dark father.
However, Richard was not without his own past so far as the ladies were concerned. He had two acknowledged illegitimate children – John of Gloucester or Pontefract depending on the source and a daughter called Katherine, a possible second natural son named Richard who turned up as a builder in Kent and another daughter provided by the Victorians with no evidence to support the idea.
Katherine appears in the records in 1484 when Richard III arranged her marriage to William Herbert the former Earl of Pembroke who was created Earl of Huntingdon when Edward IV acquired the title for his eldest son. There is no indication of where or when she was born or who her mother might have been. There is some circumstantial evidence in Richard’s account books. In 1477 Richard granted Katherine Haute, a relation of the Woodvilles through marriage, an annuity of £5 a year from Richard’s estates in East Anglia. Its possible that Katherine’s marriage to James Haute came about when the pair discovered she was pregnant though given Gloucester’s later hostility to the Woodvilles seeking help from Elizabeth Woodville is a little eyebrow raising. The lure of an annual income of £5 may have done the job and ensured that James who was Elizabeth’s cousin took on a wife and child. With no other explanation for the annuity, two and two can be added together but whether Katherine Haute was ever Richard’s mistress will never be certain based on the current written record. Nor can history be sure who Katherine Plantagenet’s mother was.
Huntingdon carried Queen Anne’s sceptre at Richard’s coronation but there is no mention of Katherine being in attendance. The king made sure that the marriage agreement for his daughter included jointure lands of £200 a year which provided for Katherine’s widowhood. She was a young teenager at this point whilst her husband to be was approaching thirty and appears to have been subject to poor health. The king undertook to pay for the wedding and settle lands on his daughter. The king’s accounts reveal the purchase of rich fabrics for the bride and groom but beyond that very little is known. If Katherine had a child by her husband it does not seem to have survived and neither did Katherine. By the time of Elizabeth of York’s coronation as the queen consort of Henry VII in 1487, Herbert was described as a widower – although even that is a matter for some speculation. If Herbert repudiated Katherine it would have been a reference to the death of his first wife. She was buried in St James’ Church Garlickhythe London as the Countess of Huntingdon – no reference to whose daughter she was but if there was any monument or tomb of some description for Richard’s daughter it was destroyed by the Great Fire of London. It is possible that she died of sweating sickness and that her husband did not provide a monument or had yet to commission one when he himself died in 1491. He was buried in Tintern Abbey alongside his first wife – Mary Woodville.
Hammond, Peter, ‘The Illegitimate Children of Richard III,’ in J. Petre, ed., Richard III: Crown and People.
Hammond, Peter, The Children of Richard II
Hicks, Michael, Anne Neville.
Horrox, Rosemary , Richard III: A Study in Service
Anne Neville the widow of the Lancastrian heir Edward was widowed at the age of fourteen having been married off by her father the Earl of Warwick when he decided that putting King Henry VI back on the throne was a better option than allowing King Edward IV to continue to rule. By the middle of May 1471 Anne had gone from being the daughter of an earl and a princess to the widow and daughter of traitors – without cash or land. However, by the following year Anne was married to Richard Duke of Gloucester despite the fact that his brother George Duke of Clarence was against the match because he wanted to control all of the estates associated with the Earldom of Warwick by right of his own wife Isabel, Anne’s sister. Oh and by the way neither of them were entitled to any of it because Warwick’s wife, Countess Anne, was the suo jure Countess of Warwick – or in her own right. Not that it mattered. King Edward IV simply arranged for Parliament to declare her legally dead.
Edward created Earl of Salisbury during infancy by his uncle King Edward IV lived his short life in Yorkshire. His parents were celebrating Easter at Nottingham Castle in 1384 when word arrived that he died suddenly. One of the mysteries around Anne Neville and Richard III’s son was his age. He might have been born in 1473 or as late as 1477. It appears that his household was still largely female so he is more likely to have been a younger rather than older boy.
The lengthy aside demonstrates that although we don’t know exactly where or when Anne married Richard that we have a year – and add nine months for the earliest date Edward might have been born. he was named after his chief godparent – Richard’s brother, King Edward IV. Tradition says that he was born in Middleham but tradition isn’t quite the same a recorded fact. By 1477 he starts to appear in the written record and his doting uncle gave him his great grandfather’s title which had been lost by Warwick when he turned traitor and died at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. Accounts show that he received £20 a year from estates in Wiltshire.
Edward spent his childhood at Middleham and Sheriff Hutton – once in the hands of the Nevilles now in the hands of Anne’s husband who ruled the north on behalf of the king. History records the name of his wet nurse – Isabel Burgh – who may have been related to a mistress of Richard and also Anne Idley the mistress of the boy’s nursery. Anne Idley’s husband Peter was the author of a book on the education of boys which perhaps explains her appointment. In April 1483 Edward’s life changed – his uncle died.
By July Richard was king and Anne was his queen. Edward became the heir to the throne. He didn’t travel to London either for the coronation or the Christmas festivities that year. There are any number of reasons for this from safety considerations, to young age, to ill health – the last of which is usually assumed. However, on 29th August 1483 Edward and his family were at York where they were welcomed by the mayor with a pageant and a play before retiring to the archbishop of York’s house. it was said by Edward Hall that Anne led her son through the streets of York by the hand. Edward was being formally invested as Prince of Wales and knighted by his father. At the same time as he was knighted so was his half-brother John of Pontefract and his cousin Edward Earl of Warwick – the son of Isabel Neville and George Duke of Clarence. There’s no indication if this was the first time the three boys met but it is the first written reference to them being together. In total the family were in York for three weeks before Anne and her son retired to Middleham and Richard continued his progress to Lincoln where the wheels rather came off the cart when news of Buckingham’s Rebellion arrived.
King Richard’s accounts provide an insight into the boy’s life in the summer of 1483 but the record becomes almost silent until news of his death at the end of March 1483. Nor can we be certain that he is buried in Sheriff Hutton were a tomb of a small boy wearing what looks like a coronet may be found. We know from Richard III’s itinerary that he – and presumably Anne- left Nottingham almost as soon as they heard the news of Edward’s death. The couple were consumed by grief and it is possible that Richard ignored the precedent of monarchs not attending their children’s funerals because he was in Middleham at the beginning of May. It is plausible that Edward lies in Middleham still. The tomb at Sheriff Hutton may date to the first half rather than the second half of the Fifteenth century. And why the lack of certainty?
Well – when Anne died in 1485 she had no monument either. Richard was in the process of commissioning a very fine chantry in York but he ran out of time by the end of the summer he would also be dead and Henry Tudor would be on the throne. It was perfectly normal for bodies to be translated to their final resting place when the chantry chapel in which they were to be interred was complete. Richard may have intended for his wife and son to be buried in Middleham, Barnard Castle or York – but once he was killed at Bosworth no one at the time had any interest in remembering him or his family.
if you’re looking for a good read why not try Amy Licence – The Lost Kings which covers the boys who never became king in the houses of Lancaster, York and Tudor.
Having worked my way through Joan Beaufort’s daughters logically its time to move on to the sons. By rights I should start with Richard Neville 5th Earl of Salisbury. He was the third of Westmorland’s sons to survive infancy – the first of Joan Beaufort’s sons. So in the great scheme of things he really wasn’t originally destined to be much more than a footnote. His parents arranged a match with Alice Montagu who was the daughter of the 4th Earl of Salisbury. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Alice would be an heiress as her father married Alice Chaucer, the poet’s grand daughter, so it wasn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that he could have had a son.
Salisbury died in 1428 in France at the Siege of Orleans leaving Alice as suo jure countess of Salisbury meaning that Neville who seems to have married her the year before acquired the title by right of his wife as well as possession of her lands which were largely based in Hampshire and Wiltshire rather than the north of the country more usually associated with the Neville family. Although his principal residence was now Bisham he continued in his role as a warden of the marches which was periodically renewed by the state and which required his presence there.
Eventually, following Joan’s death in 1440, he took possession of his father’s Yorkshire manors ar Middleham and Sheriff Hutton and settled down to a feud with his elder half siblings who were somewhat aggrieved that whilst they had the title that the the 1st earl’s second family had acquired the estates thanks to their mother Joan. There was also the Neville-Percy feud to take into consideration which gradually escalated across the years as the two families vied for land, power and influence. Unsurprisingly the government found itself intervening on occasion. However, thanks to his mother’s canny legal arrangements and his wife’s patrimony Salisbury found himself very wealthy and rather more influential than he might have expected given that there weren’t many earls with more wealth than him.
Salisbury’s power in the north thanks to the inheritance of accumulated Neville estates coincided with King Henry VI’s deteriorating mental health. The king, known for his piety, relied upon his wife Margaret of Anjou and her court favourites notably Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke of Somerset. The treasury was empty, there were times when the royal family didn’t have food for their table and the situation in France went from bad to worse. Richard of York who was Salisbury’s brother-in-law denied his rightful role at the heart of the King’s counsels gradually became a champion for reform which led to an armed stand off at Dartford in 1452 followed by the First Battle of St Albans in 1455. Salisbury rose or fell with his brother-in-law. In 1459 he joined York at Ludlow and was forced to flee the country along with his eldest son the Earl of Warwick. The pair went to Calais with York’s son Edward Earl of March and in 1460 was with York at Sandal when a Lancastrian army arrived and began to taunt the duke – the result was a pitched battle and the death not only of York and his second son the Earl of Rutland but also of Salisbury and his son Thomas.
Salisbury escaped the battle unlike his son Thomas and son-in-law Lord Harington but was captured and taken to Pontefract where he was executed. His head was placed on Micklegate Bar in York. After the Battle of Towton the following Easter the earl’s body was moved to Bisham Abbey as his will requested.
Salisbury was related not only to York through his sister Cecily’s marriage to the duke but was also related through his own mother to Somerset who was the duke’s principal court opponent.
It was Thomas’s marriage to Maud Stanhope the niece and co-heiress of Lord Cromwell which resulted in the escalation of the Neville Percy feud in 1453 and which probably moved Salisbury from a neutral position to an alliance with York. salisbury received little help from either the queen or Somerset agains the Percy family – Somerset was friendly to Northumberland.
Salisbury and Alice had a large family of their own – ten children in all.
Anne Neville was born in about 1410 (depending on the source you read). By the time she was fourteen she was married to Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford who would go on to become the First Duke of Buckingham. The family was hugely wealthy. Anne like many of the other women in her family became noted for her interest in books and spent money on lavishly illustrated prayer books and psalters. The Wingfield Book of Hours was hers for example. In addition, as with others of her family History also has her book of accounts detailing her expenditure. She died in 1480 at the age of seventy (ish) after two marriages and many children – again figures vary depending upon the source but there were at least ten of them. Sadly of their sons, only three survived to adulthood.
Anne’s eldest son with Humphrey Stafford – unsurprisingly another Humphrey died in 1458 of plague – a reminder of the fact that disease stalked the land culling various Neville descendants just as much as war. Anne’s son had been married to his cousin Margaret Beaufort – not to be confused with the Margaret Beaufort. This one was the daughter of Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (the one who had a thing with Katherine of Valois and managed to get himself killed at the first Battle of St Albans in May 1455) rather than Margaret’s more famous cousin who was first married to Edmund Tudor.
The next son was Henry Stafford who married the widowed Margaret Tudor – nee Beaufort. It must have been a bit confusing to have two Margaret Beauforts in the family. This Margaret, other than being Henry VII’s mother, was the daughter of John Beaufort the older brother of Edmund who died in 1444 under suspicious circumstances having lost vast chunks of France due to ineptitude. Henry Stafford seems to have had a skin condition called St Anthony’s Fire – the condition involving inflammation of the skin as well as headaches and sickness which cannot have been ideal when you had to get togged up in armour and go and fight battles. There were no children from this union but the pair seem to have genuinely loved one another celebrating their wedding anniversary each year and Margaret Beaufort celebrated St Anthony’s day throughout her life. Sir Henry fell victim to the Wars of the Roses dying from injuries sustained at the Battle of Barnet in October 1470. Although the family had started off loyal to Henry VI, Henry had made his peace with Edward IV and when he was injured was fighting on the side of the White Rose. Soon afterwards, in 1472, Lady Margaret Beaufort married Thomas Stanley.
Anne’s third and final son to survive to adulthood was called John and he would become the Earl of Wiltshire. Like his brothers he fought in the Wars of the Roses. History knows that he was at Hexham in 1464 fighting on the side of Edward IV. He went on to become Chief Butler for England. Like his brothers also married an heiress. He and his wife, Constance Green, had one son born in 1470 who inherited John’s title and estates when he was just three years old. As his cousin Buckingham would do, the child Edward found himself under the care of his paternal grandmother – Anne Neville Duchess of Buckingham. In 1483, now thirteen, Edward carried Queen Anne’s crown at the coronation of King Richard III and he was also in York for Edward of Middleham’s creation as Prince of Wales. Four years later Stafford was at Elizabeth of York’s coronation as Henry Tudor’s queen. The earldom of Wiltshire became extinct on Stafford’s death in 1499 but was recreated at a later date.
Several daughters from Anne’s union to Humphrey survived to marriageable age and this proved to be a bit of a headache for the Buckinghams despite the wealth I mentioned earlier. Part of the problem was the Humphrey’s mother held extensive dower estates having not only been married to Humphrey’s father but to his older brother before that. Until she died the dower estates were hers rather than the dukes. Buckingham must have sympathised with Katherine Neville, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk whose marriage to the duke ended with his death many decades before her own. Buckingham wished to make extremely good marriages for his daughters and that cost money.
The couple’s oldest daughter, another Anne, married the heir to the Earl of Oxford. Aubrey de Vere is best known to history for being executed for treason in 1462 along with his father the twelfth Earl of Oxford. Edward IV had Aubrey and his father arrested for writing to Margaret of Anjou and planning to have a Lancastrian force land in England. This was rather unfortunate as up until that time the de Veres had done rather well at keeping themselves out of the fifteenth century fracas. It would also have to be said that the exact nature of the plot is rather blurred round the edges. Anne de Vere nee Stafford went on to marry Thomas, Lord Cobham. Thomas died in 1471 without legitimate male issue so his title passed to Anne’s daughter also called Anne who was married to Edward Burgh of Gainsborough who was unfortunately declared insane.
Anne Cobham married Edward Burgh when he was thirteen. Katherine Parr’s first spouse was a member of the Burgh family. Anne Neville and Humphrey Stafford’s 2x-great grandson Thomas Burgh fought at Flodden in 1513 and sat on Anne Boleyn’s trial having been very forceful in her favour at the time of Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon – he is on record as ripping the royal coat of arms from her barge. His residence in Gainsborough was Gainsborough Old Hall which I have posted about before. Sir Thomas does not seem to have been a terribly pleasant man given his towering rages and having his own grandchildren declared illegitimate.
But back to the daughters of Anne Neville and Humphrey Stafford. Joan Stafford, was married aged ten to William, Viscount Beaumont who started out as a Lancastrian, became temporarily Yorkist after Towton when he was captured but wasn’t given back his lands- Edward chose to give them to his friend Lord Hastings- so remained Lancastrian at heart which meant that the next two decades were eventful for him until he returned with Henry Tudor and took part in the Battle of Bosworth. William was unusual in that his loyalty to the Lancastrians was pretty much unwavering. Unfortunately for Joan the marriage was set aside in 1477. She went on to marry Sir William Knyvett of Buckenham in Norfolk. The family was an important part of the Norfolk gentry and feature in the Paston Letters. Like her mother, Joan commissioned many books which survive today.
A third daughter called Catherine married into the Talbot family. John Talbot became the 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury after his father’s death in 1460.The couple had two sons and a daughter. It feels as though Neville strands of DNA link most of the important fifteenth century families and reflects the way in which a power base and affinity could be built. Another daughter, Margaret married Robert Dunham of Devon.
Humphrey Stafford overstretched himself as he was still paying his daughters’ dowries when he died and accommodation had to be made for that in his will. The Buckinghams were good Lancastrians. Humphrey was killed in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton whilst guarding Henry VI’s tent. If you recall this was the battle that Edmund Grey rather ruined for the Lancastrians by changing sides mid battle and allowing the Earl of Warwick through his lines. This event rather changed things within the wider Neville family dynamic. In 1459 after the Battle of Ludford Bridge (which really wasn’t a battle – more of a stand-off followed by a tactical scarpering by Richard of York) Anne and Humphrey had accommodated Anne’s sister Cecily who was Richard of York’s wife along with her younger children. Thanks to popular fiction if we think of Anne at all it is usually in her rather frosty welcome of disgraced Cecily. The wheel of Fortune turned in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton and by Easter 1461 the Lancastrians had been labelled traitors and the house of York was in the ascendant with Cecily lording it over widowed Anne.
The Second duke of Buckingham was Anne’s grandson. He wasn’t even five years old when he acquired the title. Wardship of the new duke passed into the hands of Anne but Edward IV – who was Anne’s nephew (Cecily Neville was his mother)- purchased the wardship from her and with it the right to organise the young duke’s marriage. He ended up married to Katherine Woodville who he thought was rather beneath him in social status and feeling resentful of his Yorkist cousin who didn’t allow him the freedoms and rights that he felt were his due. Ultimately he undertook a spot of light revolting against Richard III in October 1483 which ended in his execution at the beginning of November the same year in Salisbury.
Six years after the death of Humphrey Stafford, Anne married again to Walter Blount who was the first Baron Mountjoy. They had no children (and trust me when I say that I am grateful whenever I come across that fact as I don’t have to try and fit more descendants onto a small piece of paper.) Mountjoy died in 1474 mentioning his beloved wife in his will.
Anne died in 1480 and is buried in Pleshy, Essex next to Humphrey Stafford as her will requested. Only her daughter Joan Stafford survived her. Most famously she left books to her one time daughter-in-law Lady Margaret Beaufort who was now married to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby.
Baldwin, David. (2009). The Kingmaker’s Sisters. Stroud: The History Press
Eleanor Neville was married in the first instance to Richard le Despenser who was a cousin – his grandfather was Edmund of Langley, Duke of York one of Edward III’s sons. He died during his teens leaving a sister as his sole heiress.
A second marriage was arranged for Eleanor to Henry Percy the son of ‘Hotspur’. The marriage between the Nevilles and Percys which was contracted in May 1412 provided a link between the two dominant northern families. Henry Percy’s father and grandfather had both rebelled against Henry IV and paid with their lives. Young Henry grew up across the border in Scotland. Henry V favoured reconciliation but if Percy was to return to favour and regain his family lands and titles he had to be kept in line. Marriage to one of the Earl of Westmorland’s daughters was one of the caveats to Percy’s restoration. The marriage took place in Berwick in 1414 but Percy did not receive his grandfather’s earldom for another two years. It has been suggested that King Henry V who was waging war in France did not want Percy in Scotland and the Southampton Plot of 1415 was a reminder of the constant rebellions and uprisings plotted against Henry IV from the point that he usurped his cousin Richard II’s throne. The Percy family were restored to many of their lands but they did not regain their Yorkshire properties which became an increasingly bitter point of contention between the Nevilles and the Percys as the fifteenth century progressed. In 1453 the marriage of Eleanor’s nephew Thomas Percy to Maud Stanhope the nice of Lord Cromwell resulted in the feud escalating into violence.
Henry fought in France but seems to have mainly fulfilled the traditional role of the Percys on the border between England and Scotland. He also seems to have come under the political patronage of Eleanor’s uncle the wily Cardinal Beaufort.
Whatever the interfamilial relationships might have been like at a regional and national level Eleanor and Henry had at least ten children. Their eldest surviving son Henry who became the 3rd Earl was killed at Towton on the Lancastrian side in 1461 as was his younger brother Richard. Their second son Thomas Lord Egremont who was instrumental in the violence at Haworth Moor in 1453 was killed in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton.Ralph was killed in 1464 at the Battle of Hedgeley Moor. Eleanor had no reason to love her nephew the Kingmaker – thanks to the wars between Lancaster and York only two of her sons survived.
George the Rector of Rothbury and Caldbeck died in the same year as his mother and William became the Bishop of Carlisle but died in 1462. One of William’s sisters, Joan, became a nun.
Katherine Percy married Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent – His mother was part of the Holland family descended from Joan of Kent the mother of Richard II by her first marriage and his father was one of the Greys of Ruthin and an active Lancastrian. Katherine’s son Anthony married one of Elizabeth Woodville’s sisters but there were not children from the union and he predeceased his father. Their second son George, who succeeded his father to the earldom, was also married to a Woodville sister – Anne who died in 1489. After her death he married into the Herbert family. Meanwhile Katherine’s daughter Elizabeth married back into the northern gentry network being contracted to Sir Robert Greystoke and her sister Anne married John Grey 8th Baron Grey of Wilton. The Greys of Wilton and Ruthin were different branches of the same family. And yes, Elizabeth Woodville’s first husband was part of the extended family network but that would require another family tree and I don’t need one of those just at the moment. Although – if nothing else it adds fuel to the concept of the naming of the Cousins War – they were all related one way or another!
Deep breath everyone! As you can see Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville had five daughters. One of them, I am delighted to report, became a nun. Joan who was born according to different sources at the earliest in 1399 but often reported as a later birth was a Poor Clare. So I shall move swiftly on.
The countess’s eldest daughter was much married. Katherine was married in the first instance to John Mowbray 2nd Duke of Norfolk. The couple who were married for about twenty years had only one surviving child – named after his father who became the 3rd Duke. Katherine’s son has been described as having a decisive part to play at the Battle of Towton which settled Edward IV onto the throne. She would eventually become the great grandmother of Anne Mowbray Countess of Norfolk who was married as a child to her distant cousin Richard Duke of York, more famous as one of the ‘princes in the Tower.’ The pair were married in 1478 when the groom was five and the bride was six. Edward IV arranged the match because little Anne was a hugely wealthy heiress. After her death in 1481 the title should have gone to the Howard family who were her third cousins whilst Richard kept the lands and the money because he was Anne’s legal husband. In the event Edward IV passed an act of parliament making his son the Duke of Norfolk reverting to the Crown if the boy died without heirs. All of that changed in 1483.
Meanwhile Katherine retained her dower and jointure rights as the dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Her second marriage was somewhat scandalous as she married one her previous husband’s knights without license. Thomas came from Harlsey Castle near Northallerton and had a long association with the Neville family. The couple had two daughters Joan and Katherine before Strangeways death which occurred before August 1443. Joan married Sir William Willoughby of Lincolnshire –a further link in the network of gentry and aristocratic families which spread beyond county boundaries. And as an interesting aside it was a member of the Willoughby family who fought against Edward IV at the behest of the Kingmaker at Losecoat Field but I wouldn’t want to comment on the familial relationship.
Katherine Strangeways was married to Henry Grey of Codnor on 29 August 1454. Grey swapped his loyalties from Lancaster to York following Towton. He was a key member of the Derbyshire aristocracy and managed to get into a feud with the Vernon family in 1467 which resulted in the Duke of Clarence being sent to the region to restore order. In 1468 the families were required to swear not to intimidate jurors. Three years later Katherine’s husband was summoned to London because he caused a riot in Nottingham. Katherine had no children and predeceased her argumentative husband.
Meanwhile the dowager duchess was widowed for a second time and married for a third time to John Viscount Beaumont who was killed in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton. Beaumont was a rather wealthy Lancastrian who was always loyal to Henry VI. It is perhaps not surprising he met his death whilst guarding the king.
In January 1465 Katherine Neville, who might reasonably expected to have enjoyed her widowhood in charge of her own estates, made her final marriage to Sir John Woodville. A chronicler described the match as a ‘diabolical marriage.’The bride was past sixty years in age and the groom was not yet twenty. There is no indication about how Katherine felt about the match – it is usually rolled out to illustrate Woodville greed but for all we know the unlikely couple may have been on friendly terms. Rather unexpectedly Katherine outlived her young husband as he was executed without trial at Coventry by her nephew the Earl of Warwick following the Battle of Edgecote.
Katherine was issued with Coronation robes in 1483 and was part of Anne Neville’s coronation procession. She died later the same year.
Sir Ralph Neville of Oversley, the second son of the Earl of Westmorland’s first family with Margaret Stafford married his step-sister Mary Ferrers – sometimes called Margaret or Margery- who was the daughter of Sir Robert Ferrers of Wem and Joan Beaufort. She was born in about 1394 and died circa 1457. Her marriage took place in about 1411. Like other members of the Neville family, she and her husband were admitted to the Guild of the Holy Cross at Stratford-Upon-Avon. She was the co-heiress of the 2nd Lord Ferrers of Wem. Neville became Lord of Oversrlsey in Warwickshire by right of his wife. Margaret appears to have had one son John Neville who was born in about 1416. John would become the Sheriff of Lincolnshire. John died in 1482.
Ralph’s sister Maud was married to Peter de Mauley of Mulgrave in about 1400. Maud did not give her husband any children so held Mulgrave Castle in her own right after his death as part of her jointure (Rickard, p.487). The marriage reflects a regional pattern of intermarriage and affinity that can be seen repeated in the marriages made by Maud’s sisters.
Alice Neville was married to Sir Thomas Grey. Grey came from Heton in Northumberland. His uncle was Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk and he was also a descendent of King Edward I through his maternal line. Grey succeeded his father in 1400 and was shown great favour because of his father’s support for King Henry IV at the time when he took the throne from his cousin King Richard II. By 1404 Grey was a retainer of the Earl of Westmorland with a marriage to cement the relationship but Grey drew closer to Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge who had a claim to the throne by right of his Mortimer ancestry. Meanwhile the couple went on to have at least eight children. The pattern continued to reflect regional intermarriage amongst affinities and extended kinship networks. One of Alice’s sons married into the FitzHugh family of Ravensworth. Together with the earl and Henry Scrope of Masham Grey was one of the three conspirators executed for his part in the Southampton Plot in 1415. Grey’s alliance with the earl of Cambridge was cemented in 1412 when his son Thomas was betrothed to the earl’s daughter Isabel of York who was three at the time of the betrothal.
Alice’s son Thomas died before 1426 leaving his widow and a son. Isabel went on to marry Henry Bourchier who was created the Earl of Essex by King Edward IV for his support of the Yorkists. The couple had a large family including a son married to Edward’s sister-in-law Anne Woodville.
Philippa married into the Dacre family, Margaret married into the Scrope family and Anne married Sir Gilbert Umfraville who seems to have come from Harbottle and was killed in 1421 at the Battle of Bauge without heirs. He’d inherited his title and estates whilst an infant but came into his inheritance in 1411. His wardship had been secured by the Earl of Westmorland and his betrothal to Anne was completed during his childhood. I’m not sure what happened to Anne after her husband’s death.
Elizabeth became a nun. There is a reference to an annuity being left to an Elizabeth Neville who was a London Minoress in 1386. However, she was the daughter of John Neville so the aunt of Ralph and Margaret’s daughter. It appears that there was a tradition of Neville women joining the London minoresses at Aldgate as Elizabeth received her annuity at the same time that John’s sister Eleanor the widow of Geoffrey Scrope was left money for the care of the convent. Not only had she joined the sisterhood but she became its abbess. The minoresses were an enclosed order of Poor Clares. It was a popular location for aristocratic womenfolk although they did not always take vows. Interestingly John of Gaunt left money to the sisters and after 1398 Margaret Beauchamp lived there after her widowhood.
Rickard, J. (2002). The Castle Community: The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422. United Kingdom: Boydell Press.
Bourdillon, A. F. C. (1926). The Order of Minoresses in England. United Kingdom: The University Press.
‘Friaries: The minoresses without Aldgate’, in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark, ed. William Page (London, 1909), pp. 516-519. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/london/vol1/pp516-519 [accessed 31 March 2022].
Ralph Neville 1st Earl of Westmorland married Margaret Stafford by papal dispensation. Like so many other marriages of the period there was a degree of consanguinity to be taken into consideration.
The couple’s eldest son John made a glittering marriage to Elizabeth Holland the daughter of Thomas Holland 2nd Earl of Kent in 1394. Her mother was Alice FitzAlan the daughter of the Earl of Arundel and his wife Eleanor who was the Great Granddaughter of King Henry III. It was an indicator of the earl’s growing power and prestige. John held the office of Warden of the West Marches from 15 May 1414 to 1420. He succeeded his father who was also the Warden for the West Marches. It would be something of a Neville family responsibility through much of the fifteenth century. He also played his part in the Hundred Years War.
Meanwhile Margaret Stafford died and the earl made a second marriage in November 1396 to Joan Beaufort the legitimised daughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. The couple went on to have fourteen children who the earl showed increasing favour towards as he enfeoffed lands which should have been destined for his eldest son and heir to his second family. John did not seem to object to his father’s favour towards his half-siblings. According to Charles Ross he was a witness to at least one of his father’s land transfers. It is possible that neither Ralph nor John realised the extent to which Ralph’s second family would take advantage of the enfeoffments they received. John died before his father. He had been an active participant in the Hundred Years War and it is likely that his death occurred in France in 1420.
John’s eldest son Ralph succeeded his grandfather as the second Earl of Westmorland after the first earl’s death in 1425. The following year he married into the Percy family and received licence to enter his lands- but they were sadly depleted resulting in an increasingly bitter legal dispute with his step-grandmother and the junior Neville line headed by Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury. Joan Beaufort and her brother, Cardinal Henry Beaufort had no intention of allowing the earl’s first family – the senior line- to benefit at the expense of Joan’s family. Inevitably matters moved beyond the courts to threats, intimidation and violence.
In 1438 the two halves of the family were summoned to appear before King Henry VI to resolve the ongoing conflict. By 1443 a settlement had been achieved which saw Joan’s son Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury in possession of his father’s properties in the North-West, Yorkshire, Essex, York and London whilst the second earl received properties within the Bishopric of Durham including Raby Castle and Staindrop. After Joan’s death at the end of 1440 her dower lands in County Durham were also returned to the 2nd earl.
At about the same time the accord was reached between the two halves of the Neville family, the 2nd earl who had been widowed married for a second time to Margaret Cobham. The 2nd earl and his family did not have the powerful family connections of their half-siblings, the earl’s second wife was Margaret whose sister Eleanor was married to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester who was Henry VI’s regent in England during his minority was perhaps a strategy to garner some influence.
As well as losing his first wife the earl’s daughter by Margaret, named after her mother, died young and in 1450 his remaining child and heir, John, by his first wife also died. He left a wife – Lady Anne Holland, daughter of the Duke of Exeter but the marriage was thought to be unconsummated.
It appears that Ralph suffered some sort of mental illness at around the same time. The 2nd earl’s brother Thomas who died in 1458 seems to have acted as the earl’s guardian at times. After Thomas’s death it does not appear that anyone took over the responsibility. Either the earl was fully recovered or the conflict that would become known as the Wars of the Roses impacted on the Ralph’s care plan. It might also account for why he did not become involved in the build up to the conflict between York and Lancaster. Although the 2nd earl spent many years litigating against his grandfather’s second family he did not put an army in the field against his uncle Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury or cousin the Earl of Warwick.
The 2nd earl’s remaining brother, John, styled Baron Neville did become embroiled in the intermittent conflict between Lancastrians and Yorkists. According to the English Chronicle Baron Neville met with Richard Duke of York at Sandal in December 1460 before raising an army of 8,000 men. York believed that the baron and his army were on his side in the coming battle so emerged from behind the safety of his castle walls on 30 December. But before the fighting was underway the baron and his men, along with Andrew Trollope the Captain of Calais, turned on the Yorkists. The duke was, after all, allied with his brother-in-law Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Westmorland’s second marriage and the beneficiary of the estates which the earl’s family from his first marriage believed to rightfully belong to them. Evidently John decided that the enemy of his enemy was his friend – so opted to join the Lancastrians.
The Lancastrians saw victory at Wakefield whilst the Yorkists experienced defeat and the deaths of Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury and his son Thomas as well as Richard Duke of York and his second son Edmund Earl of Rutland who was allegedly killed by Lord Clifford as he sought mercy as he fled the battlefield. The tables were soon turned. At the Battle of Towton which was fought during Easter 1461 the Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians and claimed the throne. Baron Neville was killed during the battle and attainted of treason leaving his widow without means.
Which brings me back to Anne Holland – who we last saw as a grieving widow in 1450 when the 2nd earl’s son John died. The marriage was said to be unconsummated which perhaps removed the impediment to her second wedding (the wording for the papal dispensation must have been interesting both in terms of consanguinity and affinity.) In 1452 Anne married John’s uncle, Baron Neville (the one killed at Towton.) She had only one child, a son named Ralph by Baron Neville. He would become the 3rd Earl of Westmorland. Anne’s own mother Anne Stafford, was not only the daughter of the Earl of Stafford but also the widow of Edmund Mortimer 5th Earl of March before she married the Duke of Exeter (still with me?) which means -for those of you keeping track of who was related to whom -that Anne was distantly related by the ties of kinship created by marriage to King Edward IV who was descended from Mortimer’s sister Anne (Edward’s granny) – demonstrating once again that during the fifteenth century everyone who mattered was related to some degree or other!
Right – I’m off to lay down in a darkened room…
Cokayne, George Edward (1936). The Complete Peerage, edited by H.A. Doubleday and Lord Howard de Walden. IX. London: St. Catherine Press
Ross, Charles (1950). The Yorkshire Baronage, 1399–1435 (PhD). University of Oxford.